How’s this for a quality-improvement success story? In 2011, three Minnesota-based institutions—the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement (ICSI), the Minnesota Hospital Association, and Stratis Health—launched the Reducing Avoidable Readmissions Effectively (RARE) campaign to reduce avoidable hospital readmissions across the state. So far, the campaign’s 82 participating hospitals and 100 community partners have prevented 6,211 readmissions between Jan. 1, 2011 and June 30, 2013.
The efforts were recognized last month when RARE was named a recipient of the 2013 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award for Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality.
Launched in 2002 by National Quality Forum and Joint Commission, the award honors John M. Eisenberg, MD, MBA, a former administrator of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and an advocate for patient safety and healthcare quality. SHM won the John M. Eisenberg Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality award in 2011 for its mentored-implementation program.
According to ICSI project manager Kathy Cummins, RN, MA, hospitals involved in RARE aren’t given specific instructions on how to reduce readmissions, but are encouraged to focus their efforts on these areas:
- Comprehensive discharge planning;
- Medication management;
- Patient and family engagement;
- Transition-care support; and
- Transition communications.
While the campaign provides guidance and technical support, each hospital comes up with its own strategies for achieving these goals. Ms. Cummins, for example, describes how one hospital that was tasked with reducing readmissions without adding staff had paramedics use their downtime to visit recently discharged patients. The paramedics now check in to see if patients are exhibiting warning signs of illness and make sure they’re taking their prescribed medications.
SHM board member Howard Epstein, MD, FHM, ICSI’s chief health systems officer, says the RARE campaign targets issues hospitalists have long struggled with.
“Hospitalists don’t want to see their patients readmitted to the hospital,” Dr. Epstein says. “It doesn’t look good on their part, and it’s not the best thing for their patients. The [RARE] campaign galvanized the system to support what hospitalists have been demanding for many years.”
Stephanie C. Mackiewicz is a freelance author in California.